An Oasis of Care for People With Intellectual Disabilities
Source: New York Times, December 30, 2014
For years, parents like Ms. Kramer have struggled to find compassionate health care for their adult children with profound disability, among the most medically underserved populations in the country. They are told their children are not welcome: too disruptive in the waiting room, too long in the examining room — beyond the abilities of doctors who have no experience with intellectual disability.
“It’s been really hard to find anyone to even take him,” Ms. Kramer says. “Much less the experience when you go into a waiting room with someone as challenging as Trey.”
Now, though, Ms. Kramer has a place to go: The Lee Specialty Clinic, one of the very few free-standing facilities designed exclusively to provide medical and dental treatment — and a sense of welcome — to people with intellectual disability. A reception area with natural light and easy-to-clean cushions. Extra-wide halls. Scales designed to weigh people in wheelchairs. An overhead tram to lift patients into dental chairs.
Just as important, say the clinic’s co-directors, Dr. Henry Hood and Dr. Matthew Holder, is its staff, trained to understand what their patients and families have been through. For example, Dr. Hood says, parents will often recall being told at the last medical clinic “to get your son or daughter out of here, and don’t ever bring them back.”